It’s a little lonely around Casa de Episcoplic tonight. The kids are with Lou. I have laundry and tidying I could be doing, but… I don’t feel like it.
A dear friend once told me I’m a Social Sim. It’s an apt comparison; I’m energized when I interact with people. On days and nights when I don’t have my kids, I feel weird when hours pass and I don’t use my voice.
I miss Poppy and Ace. Those buggers. I’ll admit it was somewhat novel at first, having time away from them, to myself. Who doesn’t appreciate that sometimes? But the novelty has worn off, especially as Lou has had the kids a little more lately.
I really got to flex my mommy muscles over the last couple of weeks, though. Ace was sent home sick from day care the Wednesday before Easter, and I got to pluck him up off the playground where he was sitting in the sand, cold and whimpering with discomfort. I comforted him, cuddled him, took him to the doctor, and held him while he slept on my shoulder as we waited for his prescription to be filled (which inexplicably took forever–this is amoxicillin, people, not polyjuice potion). I brought him home with me and fussed over him while he lay on the couch and watched cartoons.
Holy Saturday, it was Poppy’s turn to be sick. Poor little lamb; I had just recently told a friend I couldn’t remember the last time either of my kids had puked, and though I knocked on wood, Poppy paid the price for my exclamation. Several times she paid it! Throughout the afternoon and into the night. She slept on one end of the couch, then had to be moved to the other end of the couch so the first end could be wiped up. Then she had to be moved to the overstuffed chair and ottoman, though this time I wisely covered the chair with a blanket. Then the blanket had to be replaced.
I found myself awake at nearly midnight, Googling for signs of dehydration and wondering if I should call Lou for a Pedialyte run. But first, I called a 24-hour nurse’s line and jotted down notes for things to look for that might indicate a visit to the ER was in order, namely a dry, sticky mouth.
“So… I should stick my finger in her mouth?” I asked the nurse, who confirmed I should do exactly that, as soon as I got off the phone with her. So I dutifully stuck my finger in Poppy’s mouth, which thankfully was slick with saliva, meaning she was not in imminent danger of drying completely out.
Finally, with Poppy resting peacefully, a pan strategically placed near her chin, and the Easter bunny having been seriously delayed in his visit, I went to bed.
This year, Easter Sunday fell on my birthday. Earlier Saturday evening, before the Googling and the nurse’s line, I set about baking a crazy, tie-dye cake. I knew Poppy must be feeling pretty sick because she didn’t even care to help me and Ace mix the batter into different colors (if, you know, the barfing didn’t clue me in that she wasn’t well). But the cake broke catastrophically into pieces when I dumped it onto the cooling rack.
Ugh, all that work: dividing and mixing and dying–and directing Ace to stir the dye in and not eat the raw cake batter by the spoonful. The cake was too broken to even attempt to assemble it back into a cake-looking thing. It was more like a garbage-bound-looking thing.
But it was Holy Saturday night by this time. The next day was Easter, and even if I had two well kids, would the stores even be open for me to buy ingredients for another cake?
So I made the best of it. I tore the larger cake pieces into smaller chunks and lined a baking dish with them. Then I melted the canned frosting I’d planned to use and drizzled it over the craggy cake surface, then decorated it with food dye marker scribbles.
And with that, the cake was saved. Made new. As if having my 34th birthday fall on the Fest of the Resurrection weren’t a metaphor that wrote itself, the very birthday cake felt it necessary to drive home the themes of renewal and rebirth.
Last year, I wrote that turning 33 felt significant. David Wilcox sings, “if you don’t die in glory at the age of Christ, then your story is just getting old.” And I considered that parenting is its own kind of glory, bizarre though it may be in moments when you find yourself fully clothed, in a bathtub, wielding scissors at your 2-year-old’s hair.
Thirty-three was quite a year, with plenty of glory in that style known especially to parents. But much more than glory, this year has been filled with grace. Grace, because it was also marked by fear, anguish, doubt, judgment, and unknowing. Grace because none of those things has won, though all may rightfully have claimed a part of me.
Grace, because ending my marriage does not at all feel like glory. On nights like tonight, when my two biggest blessings are miles away from me, when I have a couple of baskets of unfolded clothes on the bed and have felt my vocal cords vibrate only when I coughed–grace, not glory. Grace in knowing that all will be well, that my babies will be back in my arms soon, that no matter how far they are from me, my love will reach them. That my love multiplied by eleventy billion can’t match God’s love for them. And for me–by grace. For you, too.
On Easter Sunday morning, Poppy and Ace arose to investigate their Easter baskets. Poppy was feeling cautiously better, and around mid morning allowed herself to nibble a little toast and take a few tentative sips of water. Lou came over, and the kids had a low-key Easter egg hunt outside the apartment. And I watched a video or two of Easter hymns posted by friends on the ole Facebook, to make up for having to miss church.
We didn’t celebrate the Resurrection, nor my birthday, the way I planned: with Poppy in a smocked dress and ruffled socks, Ace with a bow tie, and crab legs for dinner. But the renewal theme this year was illustrated in a way I won’t soon forget. Spring is here, and things are growing. And growing can hurt, but growing means living. Anything that does not grow, dies.
By grace, we will keep on living, keep on growing, and–by grace–keep on loving.